For Immediate Release
April 19, 2012
Contacts: Neil Tickner, 301 405 4622 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Innovative Anti Hunger Campaign Wins Kevin Bacon Challenge at UMD
Top Philanthropic Terp Campaigns Fight Hunger, Cancer, Illiteracy
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Actor Kevin Bacon led a cheering crowd and a standing ovation at the University of Maryland Wednesday night as he and celebrity judges announced the winners of the first-ever "Do Good Challenge" - a unique effort by the UMD School of Public Policy and Bacon to stimulate "social entrepreneurship" and student philanthropy on campus.
"Keep up the good work, because good work it is!" Bacon said as he announced the top winners:
Second Place: Zeta Tau Alpha Breast Cancer Awareness, an extensive campaign by a University of Maryland sorority keyed to the number 1,688 - the number of current campus undergrads expected to develop breast cancer.
Third Place: Students Helping Honduras, a campaign by UMD students who personally began building an elementary school in a Honduran village, and then raised money needed to finish the job.
Bacon - whose online sixdegrees.org encourages individuals to fundraise and become "celebrities for your own cause" - awarded a grand prize of $5,000 and additional "cool gifts" to donate to their charities. The other top winners also got cash prizes for their causes, all donated by co-sponsor Motorola Mobility Foundation.
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"It's just a dream ... and I wasn't expecting to win," Andrew Bresee, a junior environmental science and technology major and one of the leaders of the Food Recovery Network, told reporters afterward. The team collects leftovers from campus eateries, which might otherwise be thrown away, and then transports them to area homeless shelters. The prize money will help the team double its impact in the community - from distributing 30,000 meals a year to about 60,000.
The Food Recovery Network team was one of over 100 that responded after Bacon launched his Challenge in February with a video encouraging as many Terps as possible to creatively use social media to impact social change. They could raise awareness, fundraise or organize a volunteer event - anything to further their cause. Hundreds of students participated, raising an average of $1,000 per team.
During Wednesday's showdown, six finalist teams had six minutes to pitch their cause to Bacon and fellow judges - former Terp Head Basketball Coach Gary Williams ('68) and NBC nutrition expert Joy Bauer ('86).
As the judges huddled to choose the winners, they were aided by audience members who texted in their picks. Over 650 students, alums, families and supporters had packed the event.
"It is possible to do well and do good at the same time - as these students have so emphatically demonstrated with a tsunami of creativity, entrepreneurship and heart," said University of Maryland President Wallace Loh. "We teach our students to use their education to give back and help solve problems large and small. Now, these impressive social entrepreneurs should savor the enduring impact and good will they have produced."
The prize money will be used to extend the reach of the winning charity so students can continue to "do good" in the community and at the same time build for the future, the organizers said.
"Philanthropy isn't just about giving back and helping your community. Increasingly, it's the driver of innovations in education or disease prevention," said University of Maryland Professor Robert Grimm, who leads the School of Public Policy's Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership.
Grimm's undergraduate class, in which students learn first-hand about nonprofit leadership, inspired the challenge. "We want to harness the entrepreneurial spirit and energy of young people and create a new culture of philanthropy that produces leaders and citizens that make an impact around the world," he added.
Earlier in the day, Bacon met with about 20 of Grimm's students. When they asked what inspired him to start SixDegrees.org - it grew out of a an online game in which it was said that Bacon could be connected by six degrees to anyone in Hollywood, living or dead - Bacon turned the tables and asked the students why they were interested in philanthropy.
Junior French and elementary education major Caitlin Virta answered, "I love the idea of trying to give back - it makes me feel good. It's just a great way to live."
Grimm said he looks forward to repeating the success of the Challenge, calling it a "grand experiment to see what Terps could do by exercising their entrepreneurial skills to give back to their community." His verdict: "We were extremely impressed. This challenge is helping to create a new culture of philanthropy on campus, and I'm very hopeful that we've created a new tradition as well, Grimm added."
The School of Public Policy's Center for Philanthropy led the competition in coordination with Bacon's charity SixDegrees.org, Network for Good, the Motorola Mobility Foundation, the College Park Foundation Colonnade Society, the Center for Social Value Creation at UMD's Robert H. Smith School of Business, and Freed Photography.
The Motorola Mobility Foundation funded the competition with a $15,000 award to the students.
"The Motorola Mobility Foundation is dedicated to forging strong community partnerships and fostering innovation," said foundation director Eileen Sweeney. "This competition was inspired by those same values, and we're very proud to support these students who show such creativity, dedication, and vision."
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